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How to dress to best flatter your body shape


Dressing well isn't just about size and style, gentlemen, it's about dressing for your body type.

How to dress to best flatter your body shape
The Gentleman

Thought finding flattering clothing was simply about purchasing the right size? Whilst that’s certainly one piece of the puzzle, of equal importance is dressing for your body shape. The sartorially savvy are adept at this and they stay that way by sticking to a few general rules.

This handy guide gives you the lowdown on five of the most common male body types, and how best to dress them.  

bodyshapes

The male body shapes left to right: Trapezoid, rectangle, inverted triangle, oval, triangle.

The Trapezoid

Fellow gentlemen: David Beckham, Hugh Jackman, David Gandy

With broad shoulders and chest, sizeable arms and a medium-narrow waist, this well-proportioned shape is often lauded as the ideal silhouette for most men. Luckily for trapezoids, their body shape does most of the work for them, making them one of the easiest silhouettes to dress. 

Whilst experimentation is encouraged, it is advised to avoid baggy clothing in favour of well-fitting clothing to show off this enviable shape. Excessive shoulder padding on suit jackets ought to be avoided as this distorts the silhouette, making it appear disproportionately top-heavy. 

The dexterity of a figure-hugging, cotton T-shirt is always a flattering choice, team with straight-cut jeans for a failsafe off-duty look.

The Rectangle

Fellow gentlemen: James Bay, Peter Crouch, Ashton Kutcher

Rectangle-shaped gents are easily recognisable by their straight-up, straight-down shape wherein the hips, waist and chest appear to be of equal proportions. To rebalance this silhouette, aim to add width to the shoulders whilst narrowing further down. Tactical layering of the upper body, à la James Bay, is the easiest and most effective way to create this illusion.

Skinny jeans were made for rectangles, so combining them with a cleverly styled upper body creates that rebalancing through contrast. When shopping for suits, shoulder padding is naturally a rectangle’s best friend but make sure to keep it slim on the bottom half.

The Inverted Triangle

Fellow gentlemen: Dwayne Johnson, Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer

The shape of athletes and heavy gym goers, the inverted triangle is similar to the trapezoid but the upper body appears ‘V’ shaped due to such a whittled waist and hips. This shape has a tendency to look top-heavy if not styled with caution. The overall aim here is to balance the proportions out. 

Wear lighter coloured jeans to give the illusion of fullness in the lower body and contrast with darker, fitted (but never skintight) clothing on top to avoid adding further width up top. Excessive print on the top half is best avoided also. Instead opt for vertical stripes to elongate the silhouette. 

Be careful not to fall into the trap of drawing attention to the wrong proportions: super skinny jeans, shoulder padding and V-necks are all best avoided, so as to not fall into the trap of looking as if you regularly skip leg day.

The Oval

Fellow gentlemen: James Corden, Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill

This shape represents the body of many an older gentleman. Ovals have larger upper arms and a rounded stomach which results in legs looking far slimmer in comparison. The aim here is to elongate the upper body to diminish its rounded appearance. 

While vertical stripes and V-necks are great choices to lengthen, turtlenecks and busy prints should be avoided. Also steer clear of contrasting colours on the top and bottom, such as a white shirt and black trousers. This monochrome combination makes the legs look smaller at the same time as enlarging the upper body, resulting in an overall exaggeration of the oval shape. By contrast, wearing separates of the same dark colour will elongate. 

Opt for suits in light fabrics, linen being a great option, as opposed to heavier alternatives such as tweeds which add extra bulk. Wide leg jeans work well to balance the proportions out, but stick to dark colours to slim and lengthen.

The Triangle 

Fellow gentlemen: Ricky Gervais

With the chest and shoulders narrower than the hips (the opposite to the inverted triangle, funnily enough), a sloping shoulder line is the telltale sign of a triangle. When weight is gained it appears in the midsection, which gives the illusion of a wider overall appearance. To draw attention away from this it is advisable to emphasise the upper body. 

On the top half, patterns and lighter colours are preferable to add that width, with horizontal striping the most effective. It is important to ensure shirting is neither baggy nor fitted but rather in between. This gives enough drape to disguise the area but is subtle enough to ensure that this intention isn’t patently obvious. Another trick is to utilise shoulder padding to rebalance, resulting in a slimming effect. 

Triangles always ought to ensure their bottom half is kept simple, anything overly fussy enlarges the legs and in turn, the whole silhouette.

Words: Lizzie Lloyd-Wickens

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